I stood in the taxi stand line at the hotel and waited for the bellman to whistle down a cab. It pulled up, Edmond at the wheel: 50s, grey mustache, baseball hat and wire-rimmed glasses. He looked like an older version of my soccer coach from ninth grade, the one who had us stand in a validation circle after each practice, our arms slung around each others' necks, sharing compliments of what we noticed each other do well that day. I told Edmond I needed to go to the bank and gave him the address. He coughed and apologized, "I just ate a sandwich." "Do your thing," I said. "It's cool."

A block or so later he asked me what my favorite Christmas gift was. I hesitated so he said, "Here, I'll tell you mine," and held up a wrist so I could see his watch. He pushed a button on the side, "It lights up!" "Nice!" I said, "Mine is leggings from my husband. They have eyeballs all over them."

"Where are you from?" He asked. "I'm from Montana." We got a little lost and he compared his GPS to his wife, "I think I know everything already but it's always better when I give in and ask for help." We found Chase but had to cross six lanes of traffic to get to the parking lot. Calmly he pulled into a lane of oncoming cars and sat unmoving. When they honked and went around us he told me, "I used to drive an ambulance so I still act like I have flashing lights and a siren." "You're very confident," I said.

On the way home from the bank we talked about marriage, the Grand Canyon, the far-right Republican party, and he drove a good 20 feet atop a center island to avoid waiting to get in the left turn lane. At one point in our conversation, I heard myself say, "I'd freeze to death if I had to choose how I'd die," and I knew Edmond is my current favorite cab driver. He may not obey traffic laws but he really seems to enjoy his work and is strangely engaging.



Albuquerque, NM

Looking for a home, Nashville edition

I thought moving from California would be difficult with the packing, loading the shipping containers, and driving but it turns out that moving to Nashville is harder. Where is our place here? We've been here looking for days and so far it's nowhere. I'm ultra-methodical when looking for a home and stalk Craigslist and property management sites, make phone calls and visit apartments to the detriment of anything else I may have to do. My mind swirls with THE CHOICES! and I mull over and weigh options until finally something makes sense. But the choices in Nashville thus far have been 1. sad 2. more sad and 3. depressing, I'm going to bed. We've found ourselves saying things like, "Well, if we're going to live on a sad street, then I'd rather be on that sad area." The city doesn't make sense yet to a degree that no amount of advice from others, driving for hours on end, and mad Googlemapping has solved. Everything so far has been out of our price range or dismal and I'm entirely confounded.

For years I had ability to attract unique or inexpensive homes - I was a caretaker for an old schoolhouse in Seattle and lived free in the nun's attic quarters, $500 for a room in a rent-controlled condo with brick walls and french doors to a patio in the East Village and at one point I almost lived on a boat - and from 1995 until a few years ago, my rent was almost always between $350 and $500. In Covington, we paid more than that and the place wasn't the perfect location but it had a LOAD of character and I'm a character junkie. I like urban and country, super old or super modern. I like the tall brick buildings of the inner city and log cabins and modular and mid-century. I subscribe to the idea that my surrounding's aesthetic affects my mind and swear that on a cul-de-sac my thoughts feel dead end. My ideas are bigger around tall buildings, trees, or mountains and fluid when I'm on water.

The first house we looked at in Nashville was nice inside but small. The smallness would have been fine if the vinyl siding of the outside wasn't as shabby, the front porch so dingy and the street so sad. "It is winter," we said as we walked down the sidewalk, "We have to imagine what this will look like in six months." But it also wasn't close to anywhere in the city we wanted to be and would have been a drive to everything. It had a yard and a park at the end of the street so Patsy would have been a happy dog but the humans would have been painting our nails black and popping Wellbutrin once they dried. It was cheaper than California but more than Cincinnati and Kentucky. I assumed we would easily shave off several hundred or even a third of our rent price by moving to Tennessee but this may not be true. We saw a place today that I nicknamed the moldy campground and it was only $150 cheaper than our Oceanside apartment. It was that house you went to a party at when you were 19: stained carpet, the walls listing oddly, cabinets that don't shut, extension cords run along the walls, and black in all the corners. It was on a beautiful street and looked great in the photos.

What I don't get is that Nashville has tons of artistic and musical residents, not all of whom can be rich. WHERE ARE YOU PEOPLE LIVING? I think it's more affordable to buy a house here than rent but we're not trying to buy a house. I've had people tell me that I need to live in East Nashville, or Sylvan Park, or Green Hills. We drive around and it looks great but nothing is for rent or it's boarded up or it's malls and tract housing at which point my brain's synapses quietly power down. One area, Germantown, I was warned against because it's supposedly not walkable to anything. We found it today and it was near a grocery, several cafes, and a farmer's market. I loved the buildings but everything was $1,800 or $2,000 a month. There is one Germantown house with a warehouse and watertower at the end of the street. Downtown is in the distance and modern row houses are around the corner. It was the warehouse and watertower that got me, though. In a potentially suburban setting, I actually find signs of industrialization comforting. The rent is less than $1,000 a month and we're going to see it tomorrow. Assuming we like the inside, the catch is that the current tenant doesn't know when she's moving out. "It could easily be by February," says the listing agent, "I'll be the first to know!"


Things I learned on the latest road trip

- I need to buy several of these emergency seat belt cutter glass breaker LED light tools. Thanks Jim.

- My iPod on shuffle likes Sade waaaay more than I do.

- The Motel 6 chain has undergone a transformation in Arizona and New Mexico: laminate wood floors have replaced old carpets, new color-blocked bedspreads instead of stained flower prints, modern finishes, flat screen TVs, and all still under $50 a night. The same has not happened to the Oklahoma and Missouri Motel 6; those still smell like nursing homes.

- I used to love Mad Libs when I was a kid (The astronaut took off in a rocket hot dog, hahahhahahha!) but they are not funny now. In fact, after doing two Mad Libs I fell into a depression and we had to throw them away.

- I'm going to miss Oceanside and kept thinking about the dinner at Harney Sushi on our last night in town and everyone who came to it: Miguel, Mark, Marisa, Troy, Julie, Sam, Monique, Monica, Jacques, Job, Lauren, Alex, Pablo, Fabian. So awesome.

- Still, I'm REALLY excited to come home and got slaphappy right around Florence, KY. And Nashville is only 275 miles from Cincinnati.

Going west

Scene from this time last year when we drove 2,220 miles in the other direction

New Mexico
Photo: Elise Thompson


Going east

We're taking our time getting from Oceanside to Cincinnati. We drove from Flagstaff to Albuquerque yesterday, to the edge of the blizzard and the point that New Mexico shut down I-40 overnight. Check out of Motel 6 late today to let the storm move east and with luck will make it to Oklahoma City tonight.

ps Why do we keep moving during winter?


"Oh my god, are there people in there?" We were driving east on I-40 just past Barstow, CA and to the right of the highway down an embankment was a smoking car turned upside down, a man running towards it. I slowed down as quickly as I could and pulled over to the shoulder. Matthew jumped out of the passenger door and began running. I backed the car along the shoulder, grabbed our phones, locked the doors and ran as well. I slid down the brush and gravel hill and when I got closer heard the man ask Matthew if he had a knife. Matthew pulled his Kershaw out of his pocket and handed it to him. I saw a woman's legs and heard her screaming. A boy of eight or nine was out of the car, standing about ten feet away, shaking and staring at the car, now on fire. Matthew and the man cut seat belts and pulled the baby and little girl through the windows. I put my arm over the boy's shoulder and across his chest and felt his heart racing. "They're getting out honey, it'll be okay."

Their mom was finally cut free and pulled out. A truck driver arrived with a fire extinguisher and the fire in the front and back of the car was doused. The family was banged up and cut and the mom was stumbling and wailing, "What happened? What happened?" She held her baby and looked at the car in shock and cried. She had no idea how her car had sailed off the highway and down the hill but a driver behind them saw the car swerve left, then right, and then was gone. The mom must have fallen asleep. She was moving to Chicago, driving her kids alone, and didn't get very far. Other cars stopped and more people helped with ice packs and water and pulled the family's suitcases over for the kids to sit on. They wrapped the kids in blankets and talked to them. Someone with OnStar called down the hill to tell us that the police and ambulance knew where we were and were on the way.

The first policewoman arrived and one of the bystanders filled her in on the kids' contusions and abrasions. I wished I were a nurse and knew words like contusion and was doing more than just rubbing the mom's legs and reminding her that her babies were safe. When more police showed up we felt in the way so we thanked the men we were standing with and went back to our car. As I drove away, I couldn't turn the music back on and I couldn't stop thinking about those children. They were so quiet; their mom was the only one making any noise. Were they okay? Was more wrong with them that we couldn't see? I couldn't stop thinking about how much worse it could have been: it might have happened on a less busy road with no witnesses. It could have happened after dark. The car could have gone to the left and into oncoming traffic. They could have not been wearing seat belts. The fire might have kept burning. Matthew might not have had a knife in his pocket. They could have easily lost their lives.

"Thank god you had your knife." They were stuck in there. "I'm a believer, I have to learn to use my knife now." #46 on my life list is to learn to open and close my switchblade properly. I put that on the list out of embarrassment, because I've had it for over a year and still feel like I'm going to injure myself every time I pick it up. I think it's funny to laugh at Matthew when he whips his knife out of his pocket to open a lollipop or a banana but I suddenly get it. Also, the AAA first aid kit I keep in the trunk is useless. I dabbed the baby's bloody nose with the tiny square of gauze in the kit and that was that. We already have two flashlights in the car and I keep a small one in my shoulder bag. I want to get more gauze, ace bandages, rubbing alcohol and blankets for the trunk. Maybe a glass breaker? Basically I want to become a first responder because I tend to take things too far. I hope the family is okay.


Henna #4

I just had my fourth run-in with Lush henna and the first was in April so I'm looking at doing this process on my hair every two months until I say eff it and go grey. HMMMM. That is a bit more often than I'd like but I'm still digging the outcome, all natural looking and earthy and non-toxic, so be it. This time I mixed half a bar of caca rouge (red), half a caca brun (dark brown), and a whole caca marron (chesnut). I'm getting better at the application - boiling, grating, mixing, slopping - though it still looks, and always will I suspect, like a baby escaped its diaper and crapped all over the counter. I have now instituted a "dance once it's on" step and when the caca has been combed through and has started to harden into a helmut, I do a few moves to celebrate before getting to the business of hanging out in a shower cap for seven hours.

Laughing quietly to myself

About how I asked for the internet password at the coffeehouse and the barista leaned in and said, "WATERMELON...ALL CAPS..." as slow and deliberate as if we were CIA agents. I've never heard watermelon sound so ominous.


#51 Be a mentor to a high school student

In October I talked to Sunny about her job as an art teacher in a new (to her) school and mine as a tour manager. How weird is it, I said, that I didn't study business or music but I've learned how to work in the music business. She said that more than anyone she knows I'm not defined by my work and that I just apply my personality to whatever job I'm doing and figure it out.

I had to think about this because I feel very defined by my work. It's true, though, that while I sometimes think I'd like to take an audio class, I'm far more comfortable with staging, sound, and the geekier financial aspects of music management than I would have ever imagined back when I worked in books; I credit my parents and Montessori for making me so damn flexible. Sunny said it doesn't matter if I'm self-taught, I'm still an expert and should do the Ask an Expert program at her school.

At Sunny's public school in Chicago, seniors are matched up with "experts" to help them with their senior project, the main thesis question and the direction of research they are taking. I stalled for a minute due to doubts as to whether I reeeeeally know enough to call myself an expert but OKAY. If we are talking about research, I'm in. I love research like I love long walks on the beach at sunset. No wait, like soup. I love research like a good bowl of soup. Long walks on the beach at sunset are just okay.

I've learned this about the school, North Lawndale College Prep:

85% of graduates are the first from their families to go to college

Last year the school received over 1200 applications for 240 openings and all of the students, most of them from the West Side, were picked from a blind lottery

NLCP receives about $1,500 less per student from public sources than traditional Chicago public high schools so they still struggle with a funding gap

NLCP has led all charter and traditional Chicago Public high schools in percentage of graduates in college the fall after their graduation for the past two years

70% of graduates have gone on to 4-year colleges and 30% to 2-year colleges since 2005 and 25% of college graduates are in or have completed graduate school

I was matched up with my student, a young woman dancer who asked, "Does performing arts improve student academic success, social skills, and college readiness?"

We were paired because music is a performing art but I still had a moment. I was exposed to every performing art growing up but didn't make them mine. After elementary school, I wasn't in plays, I quit the piano, I sucked at guitar, I sang off key in church, my dancing consisted of flopping around during reggae shows and I chose the academic high school where I could bury my nose in books rather than the School for Creative and Performing Arts. I AM GOING TO FAIL THIS GIRL.

I got out of my fear by pulling from all the examples I have surrounding me of what performing arts does for people's lives and turned to research to check up on the status of the arts in education these days. We ended up having a conversation on the phone since I wasn't in Chicago to go to the school and meet La'Keithia in person. We both explained where we were coming from, asked a lot of questions, and I hope I helped lead her down paths she hadn't considered and supported the direction she had started to take.

I learned a lot too.

American business leaders want an innovative work force yet arts education is not recognized as key to the solution.

Arts education strengthens cognitive development, innovative and creative thinking, critical reflection, communication skills, enhances social adaptability, cultural awareness and enables kids to have tolerance and acceptance, appreciation of others.

Art gives kids who are not book learners a way to express their own intelligence.

Art opens up new opportunities, gives kids something positive to do who may not have a lot of other choices. I'm talking about secretly talented gang bangers here.

Unlike curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts people use judgment over rules. There are many ways to see and interpret the world.

The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.

Studies show that involvement in the arts helps kids increase test scores and promotes academic achievement.

The arts offer a way for people to tell their stories, use their imagination, become active learners and imagination and expression are at the center of the learning process

The arts in school symbolizes to the young what adults think is important.



Laughing quietly to myself

About how I called home to see what Matthew was doing and he was sewing a button on a shirt and watching Roseanne.


GPS fail

For the record, "liquor store" is not a searchable category on the GPS.

Words I've programmed into my phone so I don't get auto-corrected

Bumpit - I overheard a comedian say, when asked how he was wearing his hair for an awards show, that he was doing a combover with a Bumpit.

Yons - If the Western Pennsylvania "yuns" and the southern "y'all" mated, they would have this illegitimate word child.

Sho, and its relative, nuff.

Purdy - You sho look it. Yeah, you.

Muts - How Matthew and I say "much". I should probably be embarrassed now.

Fanger - Finger. Not vampire related.

Dang - My phone kept correcting this to "wang".

Waaaaow - Wow. See Flavor Flav.

Mernin - When you wake up.




#96 Buy from local and independent artists and businesses

#96 on my life list is to buy from local and independent artists and businesses. This is something I do quite a bit of already so I guess my intention is to find more local and independents to support and to expand the network of people I know are making cool shrit (Shrit, I recently learned, is what they say in Georgia to avoid saying the s-word!). Here's a short list of people and places who are making things I covet, the list I want to add to this year. This is sort of in honor of holiday gifts since it's December and all but I think it's just as fun and sometimes more meaningful to give when there's no occasion except that you felt like it so this is a year-round endorsement, suckas.

- Sock Dreams Portland, OR
I recommend Sock Dreams to someone approximately four times a week during the colder months, every time I get a comment on my arm warmers. I once led myself and Monica on a high speed chase through the one-way streets and many confusing bridges of Portland in order to visit the Sock Dreams store before it closed instead of just buying online. We barely made it, the girl behind the counter was cool, and now I'm just as happy to keep buying online since they make sure your bundle of socks, arm warmers, leg warmers are sent out and sitting on your porch within a couple of days.

- Queen Bee Creations - Rebecca Pearcy. Portland, OR
I've bought vinyl bags and wallets from Queen Bee over the last ten years (at least), most recently a wallet at the Portland Airport. It's black, red, and blue, my favorite colors. It snaps shut and is easy to use, it doesn't show any sign of wear after a year, and it's big enough to hold all my shrit. I have a lot of shrit.

- The Commission Project, Art by Paul Ferney San Francisco & Paris
I found Paul Ferney on Mighty Girl and think a small commissioned painting from a photograph is just about the best present possible.

- Cats in Clothes - Heather Mattoon
I'm not even a cat person but I can totally get behind Cats in Clothes. My friend has a cat who looks like Vincent ("Vincent plays football, or soccer for Americans, he is European. He takes acting classes and loves his hoodie.") Oh, we laughed. I tried to find out more about Heather Mattoon but the About the Artist section on the website appears to be in Latin so we are going to have to let the cats speak for themselves.

- Pyrrha - Wade Papin and Danielle Wilmore
Wax seal jewelry handmade in Vancouver from reclaimed and recycled 14k gold and sterling silver. I bought Matthew a wax seal necklace of a bee in the Los Angeles Pyrrha store this time last year. I let him wear it for awhile but have had it around my neck every day since June so I guess I'm taking the "reclaim" part of Pyrrha's mission statement a bit too literally.

- Blackett Body Basics Seattle, WA
My girl, the notorious powerhouse Laura Blackett. Handmade all-natural body products that she whips up in between the raising of three children and the other dozen projects that she has planned each day.

- Art & Invention Gallery Nashville, TN
I found Art & Invention over the summer and have been back three times when I've been in Nashville. I've found handmade wedding presents, birthday presents, and no reason at all presents here. My second time back the door was locked so I was peeking through the window. The owner was inside painting the walls but she opened the door, excused the mess, and welcomed me in to walk around and then counted out the change by hand for the artwork I bought since the register was off. That is some seriously friendly Bob Roncker-level of customer service.

- Our own RACECAR
Independent music label by Matthew Cooper, Evan Sharfe, and Cody Norenberg based in Oceanside, CA soon to be Nashville, Cincinnati, and Weimar, Germany.

- Buy Olympia
A small business in Portland, OR that started in 1999 in Olympia, WA to help their friends sell handmade goods online. Art, paper goods, books, journals, clothes, jewelry, household, bags, belts, etc. I think I found Buy Olympia when I was interning for Seal Press and writing a resource section for a book back in my Seattle days.

- Fab.com
Halle invited me to Fab.com a few months ago. Fab.com is based on good design and big discounts. A page of daily shops appear in your inbox each day, many by artisans and small businesses. They can be crazy expensive or crazy inexpensive but they are all good deals for what they are and they make it waaaay too easy. Sometimes I have to tell myself, "You will not look at Fab.com today, you are too emotionally vulnerable to be trusted around all those designers." Get thee invited to Fab.com. Psst, I can invite you so just ask.



A big round of applause for Gary for sharing this with me. You're the best, Penderson.


Big Sur Thanksgiving

I'm in Vegas where it's all cowboys, country music, and miniskirts but two weeks ago I was in Big Sur for Thanksgiving. I usually come to Vegas for work and end up laughing at myself because in sharp contrast to the drunken bros yelling in the hallway and sparkly gals in bandage dresses, I'm sitting in my room wearing a flannel and working on my Amex receipts.

The couple of times I came to Vegas and acted like I was in Vegas - (1) when I got married at the Graceland Chapel and (2) for Sunny's 30th birthday when Shane made me get a lap dance from a local female art student who also happened to be a stripper and I was legitimately shocked upon leaving the club to realize that the sun would be coming up soon - it was fun. But, even then, three days of hanging out on the strip saw me crawling to a poolside lounge chair where I laid fully clothed and immobile, wanting nothing more than to return to New York where the stimulus felt less manufactured.

After I was married here, four life-changing minutes after being single, we stood outside the chapel waiting for a cab and I stared at the neon signs in the window of a bail bonds joint. There was so much good: we were hitched! Lovely people witnessed! The Elvis who gave me away was super cool! But Vegas, you are not for me.

Big Sur on the other hand? Thanksgiving dinner of $30 of snacks from the Ragged Point mini mart was just right, especially the Flamin' Hots.


Secret Service bicep

I don't get starstruck easily but Y'ALL. It was the WHITE HOUSE. Obama lives here? I'm in Obama's house? I didn't meet Barack and Michelle but it didn't even matter. I stood on the porch and looked at the Washington Monument, walked around with a female secret service agent who showed us the movie theater and bowling lane. The performers at the Country Music in Performance at the White House show were great in the rehearsals I went to: Lyle Lovett, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, The Band Perry, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Mickey, James Taylor, Lauren Alaina. I kept looking at the oil portrait of Teddy Roosevelt from my chair in the East Room, "That painting is old. It's an original. That's Teddy motherf'ing Roosevelt." I held it together, except when I touched the bicep of a secret service guy. I've never felt a muscle like that in my life and I recoiled. I sensed it would be inappropriate to curse so I just went silent.

Monstruobot and the Librarian

The Librarian opened for Monstruobot at Silverlake Lounge on Nov 8. Matthew was all "Eh, I was okay," but really, it was fantastic.

Monstruobot is Miguel Boxerinlove and Hota Martín, a duo from the Canary Islands. Matthew and Miguel have known each other online for several years but it was the first time they met in person, a joyous occasion because Hota was sweet and Miguel couldn't have been more warm and funny and silly if he'd been wearing a shirt printed of cats wearing eye patches. Oh, wait.

I tried to take a photo of him and his cat shirt but my camera konked out, only to magically start working later. My camera is not a cat person. Monstruobot wear orange prison jumpsuits onstage but are always open to new getups. I suggested a few but am way behind the curve because they have either already considered or tried my ideas: playing as bears or astronauts.

As for the type of music they make, I'm the world's worst at music description, especially for someone who works in music but also because people make up genres all the time and then act like they are A THING, YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT? DUH so I looked online and found Monstruobot described as technoise pop, new wave chillwave post-punk, and "it's like if The Cure went all 'surf's up!'" Why didn't I think of that? Probably because I'm still stuck on trying to figure out Witch house and Shoegaze.


A Gathering of Muses

Maria De Castro
A Gathering of Muses
Artist Statement: Like a canary in a coal mine, birds sense the first sense of trouble on our planet. Through their travels they are directly exposed to the effects of man on the environment. Blending cultures, religions, ethnicities, beliefs, and icons into one harmonious piece reflects my desire for a harmonious world.

San Diego Botanical Gardens

Cooper family visit

Before I got all jazzed about getting to go to a blogger conference and in between travel, I had a week at home, another chunk of time I negotiated off when I took my current job. Judy and Jim, my parents in law from Kentucky, visited us! This was cool because they'd never been to California and because it gives me perspective to show off our surroundings with new-goggles on. I've gotten used to the giant tortoise on the block and the shiny sparkly ocean at the end of the street that I've swam in a total of NEVER times since January. It sure looks refreshing, though.

We went to the San Diego botanical gardens where we saw these guys.

I doubt they have Mariachi plant people in Nashville. I only just found them but I'm going to miss them. In La Jolla we poked around the cliffs.

We went to an antiquated La Jolla bookstore where the scent of thousands of musty pages was tranquilizing. I bought a dollar book of Berlin street art. The owner spent a good deal of time sitting on the sidewalk drinking wine with his friends. That guy has something figured out.

We drove east through the hills to Iron Mountain, where it looks like someone above took handfuls of boulders and scattered them over the hills like pebbles. I remembered the rock formation I saw when I hiked Iron Mountain last Spring with Kelly and Robin, where giant's fingers reach out from the earth and up towards the sky.


Camp Mighty, the first night

There is a lot of awesome to cover from Camp Mighty last weekend. Like, a LOT. But first I've had to sleep, work, and travel (ongoing themes). I started writing this from New Bern, NC, a town I didn't know about until now - it's lovely - and am finishing in Memphis; tomorrow I fly to DC. I've also been to LA and Charlotte since I left Palm Springs on Saturday.

A week ago I was in my hotel room at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. I'd sped in from Oceanside and was trying to finish up some advance work for that week's shows before hitting the Camp Mighty welcome party that night. I wanted to clear my psychic scramble a bit before meeting a room full of strangers and also I was nervous. We'd been divided into groups with our own Facebook pages but I'd kept a low profile because I was so busy and hadn't really gotten to know anyone online.

Friday night felt like the first day of junior high and I was weirdly nervewracked with anticipation. Where will I eat lunch? Should I do my side ponytail high or low? I was also reminded of starting the Trek America job ten years ago. Then, Sara drove me down the coast from San Francisco to LA and as we got closer and closer to my drop off point, the Adventurer Hostel by LAX where happy hour margaritas were served by the grimy pool for a buck apiece, she soothed me like I was a kid going to camp, "You're going to have so much fun and make so many friends..."

So I called Sara from Palm Springs. Do you remember that speech you gave me in 2001? I also called Jocardo. He was in a car full of screaming Dominicans on the way to a club in DC so we mostly yelled at each other over the hubbub. And I did something that I never would have imagined even a few years ago: I worked on a couple of budgets WHICH CALMED ME DOWN. I told Jocardo the effect the budgets had on me and he said, "Well sure, that's something you have control over...". Oh right. Who needs therapy? Well, me but that's a different blog.

When I closed the computer and went to the party, I got my Ecco Domani glass of wine and drifted around the room, not landing anywhere until a woman whipped into my sight and stuck her hand in mine. Elaina! Elaina broke the ice like nobody's biz and was so open and energetic and funny, I immediately started feeling like me again not the little girl wearing big glasses and Forenza shorts. It didn't matter so much where I ate lunch! The tang cocktails were free! The ladies were smart and inspiring and not mean jerks! Camp Mighty was on.


Laughing quietly to myself

About how I was standing in a Memphis radio station this morning while the DJs were on the air and felt something in my sock. I (discreetly?) pulled my boot off and reached into my sock and pulled out a CHUNK OF BACON. I want to say that, "Wow, I'm that person?" But I don't think "people who find bacon in their socks" exists. Until now, my friends. Until now.

ps I had a room service cobb salad last night.


High Line view

Halle took this photo from the High Line and it reminds me of my life list. Not because I love cars, parking, and want to be an alpine mountaineer - I have zip interest in those things - but because of the juxtaposition and intersection of nature and city extremes. My favorite places have some element of extreme to them - New York, Berlin, Iceland, Alaska - and the motivation behind parts of my list is deepening those experiences. I also want to make a quilt out of old clothing so I'm not exactly a full-time adrenaline junkie. Numbers 101 and 102 on my list could be to never, ever have to try to escape from the claws of a grizzly bear or the cold embrace of an icy crevasse. Who knows, though? When I make it to that Alaskan cabin (#14), a curious bear may take it upon himself to sniff it out and I will be forced to hide indoors and sneak photos through the windows. I'm prepared for that.


charity: water

One of the things I'm doing to prepare for Camp Mighty is represent for my team, Team Two (woop!), in fundraising for charity: water. Each group's goal is $200 per person or $5,000 total. There are four groups so we are aiming to raise $20,000 before Camp Mighty even starts. Nifty, huh?

Please read below, watch the video and consider donating here. If you donate, please mention my name in the comment section. If you're in Oceanside, CA this weekend maybe I'll see you on the bike path as I will be channeling my inner 8-year-old and will be selling water and snacks and generally chatting it up on behalf of charity: water.

100% of your donation will directly fund freshwater projects in developing nations and every dollar raised is tracked to a water project.

charity: water focuses on life’s most basic need -- water. Water affects everything: education, health, poverty, and especially women and children.

One billion people live without clean drinking water all over world. Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.

Women and children usually bear the burden of water collection, walking miles to the nearest source, which is unprotected and likely to make them sick. Clean water nearby means more than safe drinking water; it means time, freedom and incentive to change communities.

When a water project is built in a community, members can often use the new water source to grow small gardens near their homes and secure their own food supply. Self-sufficient households are less affected by external conflict, famine or inadequate government services.

charity: water served its first one million people at the end of 2009. By 2050, the world's population is estimated to grow by three billion and 90% of this growth will be in the developing world. Unless sustainable water solutions are scaled fast, regions already stressed for safe water sources will be over capacity. We’re expanding our reach to meet these demands and will not stop until every person has safe water to drink.

Water Changes Everything. from charity: water on Vimeo.

And thank you...x


Life List

1. Learn to play drums
2. Go to Japan
3. Go to Ireland
4. Write in my journal more
5. Learn bookbinding
6. Design my own website for Ronckytonk
7. Go hiking in Tennessee
8. Do vocals on a song with Matthew
9. Set up a RACECAR tour
10. Have a yard
11. Learn to sail
12. Sail on a several days trip
13. Write about my brother
14. Revisit Alaska
15. Getter better on the skateboard
16. Build an eco-house
17. Have a vegetable garden
18. See U2 in concert
19. Print up more photos from my computer
20. Revisit Berlin
21. Revisit Iceland
22. Stay in an Ice Hotel
23. Slow down enough to pay attention to my mental and physical health
24. Find some physical class and actually do it: yoga, dance etc
25. Hike (part of or whole) Appalachian Trail
26. Snowboard in Colorado
27. Go to Moogfest in Asheville, NC
28. Call or work on a letter to an old friend every week
29. Go on vacation with my closest friends
30. See Patton Oswalt stand up comedy
31. Go to the Canary Islands
32. Volunteer for CISV
33. Be a Natural Ass human generator at a Pedal Power concert
34. Go to Space Camp
35. Learn how to build a fire
36. Go fishing
37. Learn to make soups
38. Listen to storytelling at The Moth NYC
39. Visit 35 US contemporary art museums: Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT), Artspace (New Haven, CT), Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Virginia MOCA (Virginia Beach, VA), CAM St. Louis, Cincinnati CAC, CAMH (Houston), Contemporary Museum Baltimore, Chinati Foundation (Marfa, TX), DCCA (Wilmington, DE), Henry Art Gallery (Seattle), Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston),
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, MO), MMoCA (Madison, WI), MASS MoCA (North Adams, MA), MCA Chicago, MOCA Cleveland, MCA Denver, MOCAD (Detroit), MOCA GA (Atlanta), MOCA Jacksonville (Florida), MOCA Los Angeles, MOCA North Miami (Florida), MCASD (San Diego, CA), New Museum (New York, NY), CAC New Orleans, MoMA (New York, NY), MoMA PS1 (Long Island City, NY), Rochester Art Center (Rochester, MN), CMCA (Rockport, ME), The Renaissance Society (Chicago), SFMOMA (San Francisco),
SITE Santa Fe (New Mexico), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
40. Visit the Getty Museum (Los Angeles)
41. Visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR)
42. Become more vocal blog participant and commenter
43. See Alain de Botton speak
44. Take a class at The School of Life in London
45. Stay in a Living Architecture building in the UK
46. Learn to open and close my switchblade properly
47. Refinish the church pew Ed: donated to Goodwill
48. Get a sewing machine and learn to use it
49. Make a quilt out of old clothing or have that lady at the Madison library make it
50.  Open my Yoga for Indie Rockers DVD (still in plastic for 3+ years)
51. Be a mentor for a high school student
52. Play chess without a cheat sheet
53. Go to each distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Four Roses, Woodford Reserve, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, Heaven Hill
54. Go to Dollywood
55. Jump in the water on New Year's Day with the Coney Island Polar Bears
56. Go on one of my dad's historical hikes in Cincinnati
57. Go to Russia
58. Cook more
59. Visit Elinor in Sri Lanka
60. Visit Charlie
61. Take a psychology course
62. Take a class at St. John's College in Annapolis, MD
63. Go with Miguel to a coffee farm
64. Become a parent, biological or adoptive
65. Get a new bike
66. Watch all Bear Grylls programs so that I can survive anytime anywhere
67. Learn to use my camera better
68. Take more photos
69. Buy a snazzy photo lens
70. Go to Joshua Tree
71. Subscribe to Rolling Stone and Spin magazine
72. Find a place to volunteer in Nashville
73. Spend a month during winter in Scandinavian country
74. Walk around my city more
75. Read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
76. Watch or re-watch American Film Institute's top 100 films:
Citizen Kane (1941), Casablanca (1942), The Godfather (1972), Gone with the Wind (1939), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Graduate (1967), On the Waterfront (1954), Schindler's List (1993), Singin' in the Rain (1952), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Sunset Boulevard (1950), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Some Like it Hot (1959), Star Wars (1977), All About Eve (1950), The African Queen (1951), Psycho (1960), Chinatown (1974), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Raging Bull (1980), E.T. (1982), Dr. Strangelove (1964), Bonnie & Clyde (1967), Apocalypse Now (1979), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Annie Hall (1977), The Godfather Part II (1974), High Noon (1952), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), It Happened One Night (1934), Midnight Cowboy (1969), The Best Years of our Life (1946), Double Indemnity (1944), Doctor Zhivago (1965), North by Northwest (1959), West Side Story (1961), Rear Window (1954), King Kong (1933), The Birth of a Nation (1915), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Taxi Driver (1976), Jaws (1975), Snow White & The Seven Dwarves (1937), Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969), The Philadelphia Story (1940), From Here to Eternity (1953), Amadeus (1984), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), The Sound of Music (1965), M*A*S*H (1970), The Third Man (1949), Fantasia (1940), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Vertigo (1958), Tootsie (1982), Stagecoach (1939), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Network (1976), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), An American in Paris (1951), Shane (1953), The French Connection (1971), Forrest Gump (1994), Ben-Hur (1959), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Gold Rush (1925), Dances With Wolves (1990), City Lights (1931), American Graffiti (1973), Rocky (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), The Wild Bunch (1969), Modern Times (1936), Giant (1956), Platoon (1986), Fargo (1996), Duck Soup (1933), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Frankenstein (1931), Easy Rider (1969), Patton (1970), The Jazz Singer (1927), My Fair Lady (1964), A Place in the Sun (1951), The Apartment (1960), Goodfellas (1990), Pulp Fiction (1994), The Searchers (1956), Bringing up Baby (1938), Unforgiven (1992), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
77. Drink a Pisco Sour on the beach
78. Move to Nashville
79. Join writer's group in Nashville
80. Own a Japanese sake cup bathtub
81. Be active participant in my neighborhood
82. Frame art that's important to me
83. Go on New Orleans walking cocktail tour
84. Collaborate on hitRECord
85. Have a drink at glass-enclosed New York Central Restaurant over 42nd St.
86. Travel by train from one US Coast to another
87. Watch or re-watch 100 documentaries:
The Cove (2010), Spellbound (2002), God's Next Army (2006), Truth or Dare (1991), TransGeneration (2004/2005), The Century of the Self (2002), The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002), A Film Unfinished (2010), When We Were Kings (1996), When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006), One Day in September (1999), Wartorn 1861-2010 (2010), Jesus Camp (2006), 9/11: Press for Truth (2006), Grizzly Man (2005), The Mormons, Frontline (2007), The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000), Shut Up & Sing (2006), Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), Man on Wire (2008), Gasland (2010), Tarnation (2003), Murderball (2005), The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (2004), The Filth and the Fury (2000), All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (2011), Lake of Fire (2006), Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? (2006), New World Order (2009), The Corporation (2003), Darwin's Nightmare (2004), Neshoba: The Price of Freedom (2010), Inside Job (2010), Taxi to the Dark Side (2007), Paragraph 175 (2000), Brother’s Keeper (1992), Tongues Untied (1989), Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001), Food, Inc. (2008), Street Fight (2005), Bus 174 (2002), Crumb (1994), Dark Days (2000), The Fog of War (2003), Bowling for Columbine (2002), Paris Is Burning (1991), Trouble the Water (2008), An Inconvenient Truth (2006), The Celluloid Closet (1995), The War Room (1993), Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998), The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988), Burma VJ (2008), Catfish (2010), The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007), Philosophy: Guide to Happiness (2000), Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005), Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996), Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010), Capturing the Friedmans (2003), Touching the Void (2003), Supersize Me (2004), Biggie & Tupac (2002), March of the Penguins (2005), Waltz With Bashir (2008), Roger & Me (1989), The Thin Blue Line (1988), Hoop Dreams (1994), Jupiter's Wife (1995), RFK Must Die: The Assassination of Bobby Kennedy (2007), The Cruise (1998), We Live in Public (2009), Joy Division (2007), Dogs Decoded (2010), 9/11: The Falling Man (2006), My Flesh and Blood (2003), Enemies of the People (2009), Popaganda: The Art & and Crimes of Ron English (2005), Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992), Examined Life (2008), Cropsey (2009), I Like Killing Flies (2004), Hype! (1996), The Trials of Darryl Hunt (2006), The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2002), No End in Sight (2007), Art & Copy (2009), Helvetica (2007), Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (2000), Scratch (2001), Capitalism: A Love Story (2009), For the Bible Tells Me So (2007), The Oath (2010), Beyond Belief (2007), The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2006), Sex Positive (2008), Outrage (2009), Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008), The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), A Brief History of Time (1991)
88. Have my own work space
89. Work on public speaking so that I like it again
90. Cut out dairy for a month and see what happens (whee!)
91. Listen or re-list to the 50 albums that changed music according to The Guardian UK:
The Velvet Underground and Nico, Self-titled (1967); The Beatles, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967); Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express (1977; NWA, Straight Outta Compton (1989); Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers (1961); Marvin Gaye, What's Going On (1971); Patti Smith, Horses (1975); Bob Dylan, Bringing it All Back Home (1965); Elvis Presley, Self-titled (1956); The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (1966); David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972); Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (1959); Frank Sinatra, Songs for Swingin' Lovers (1956); Joni Mitchell, Blue (1971); Brian Eno, Discreet Music (1975); Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I love You (1967); The Stooges, Raw Power (1973); The Clash, London Calling (1979); Mary J Blige, What's the 411? (1992); The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968); The Spice Girls, Spice (1996); Kate Bush, The Hounds of Love (1985); Augustus Pablo, King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown (1976); Youssou N'Dour, Immigres (1984); James Brown, Live at the Apollo (1963); Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life (1976); Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced (1967); Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain (1984); Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon (1973); The Wailers, Catch a Fire (1973); The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses (1989); Otis Redding, Otis Blue (1965); Herbie Hancock, Head Hunters (1973); Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath (1970); The Ramones, The Ramones (1976); The Who, My Generation (1965); Massive Attack, Blue Lines (1991); Radiohead, The Bends (1995); Michael Jackson, Thriller (1982); Run DMC, Run DMC (1984); Chic, Self-titled (1977); The Smiths, The Smiths (1984); Primal Scream, Screamadelica (1991); Talking Heads, Fear of Music (1979); Fairport Convention, Liege and Lief (1969); The Human League, Dare (1981); Nirvana, Nevermind (1991); The Strokes, Is This It? (2001); De La Soul, 3 Feet High and Rising (1989); LFO, Frequencies (1991)
92. Read How Nashville Became Music City USA by Michael Kosser and listen to the artists from the book
93. Take Neill on vacation
94. Take a martial art again
95. Have a pair of custom boots made
96. Buy gifts from local and independent artists and businesses
97. Learn how to play the MF tax game
98. Keep working on being a better manager and leader and don't get complacent
99. Start a business
100. Do a form of street art


I'm going to Camp Mighty

I've worked on the American Idol tour for the past seven summers and had plentiful good times but I also missed a lot: a Bronx summer reevaluating my life and possibly my decision to quit my publishing job, a Columbus summer with Bova flowing with gin & tonics, laughter, and solitude (I used to sit in his living room and underline A LOT of philosophy), a summer in LA which would have hastened an inevitable break up, a couple of summers in Kentucky with Matthew and all the backyard parties and cut off jean shorts that entails (apparently no slim figure) and finally, I missed BlogHer conferences.

I've read accounts of BlogHer with envy, nice I want to be your friend envy, not mean I want what you have and would poke you in your eye to get it envy, but envy nonetheless. Each summer I'd become immersed in my job, stepping far away from my blog and feeling like I was starting over each September. I always wished I was going to BlogHer to meet all the smart ladies I lurk about online but instead I was on a midnight bus to Tulsa eating string cheese and drinking a Bud Light.

When Maggie Mason and Laura Mayes announced Camp Mighty, I was thrilled. It's in November and therefore not summer, it's in Palm Springs so I can drive, and that's all it took. I signed on immediately.

This summer I was offered a job tour managing promo for one of the Idols' new albums and I took the job on the condition that I had certain dates off, like Nov 10 - 12. It's been tricky trying to do everything well at once - do well in my relationship even though I'm not home much, do well in my job because I have pride and care about the people I'm working for, and do well creatively. It hurts to write this next sentence but, ah well, I think it's true: because I'm not getting paid for being creative and being married, I think those areas are taking the biggest hits right now. I will smile through bloodshot eyes to make sure I get my job done but I'm not writing much and no amount of phone calls a day are equal to the simply being next to someone you love.

Nov 10 - 12 is creeping up and I'm starting to feel like Camp Mighty has jungle eyes. Yeah, I'm likening drinking a poolside cocktail at the Ace Hotel to a panther staring at me through the pitch, eyes glassy and reflective. I have to prepare! I'm on a team and we are raising money for charity: water, a non-profit that brings clean drinking water to people in developing nations. And by we I mean they because I've done fuck all. My personal Charity Water brainstorm session starts Sunday when I'm hanging out in Nashville with Matthew, my last show of the week completed.

I'm also in process of writing my Life List of 100 things I want to accomplish with relish. Big, small, and medium-sized, these are the items on my bucket list that I need to have noted and ready to dissect for Camp Mighty. Sounds fun? It is. And hard. I had no idea. I've worked on it mainly on planes this last week and it's finally getting up there; I think I'm at #84.


Laughing quietly to myself

About how when I was riding bikes through Oceanside with Marisa and I asked her which street we should take to cross Mission, she said the street with the light BECAUSE DANGER DOESN'T TAKE A HOLIDAY.


They hate elves

Due to corporate relationships that I'm not at liberty to discuss, I can't say exactly why I find this photo funny and yet I'm compelled to share...I know, annoying. The palm tree enemy is really for Elise since she was witness to my most vehement outbursts against palms when we moved to California and walked around Oceanside those first few days. The Keebler Elf enemy is unrelated except that it happens to be on a truck parked in front of a palm and I might have once heard an executive say sort of joking and SORT OF TOTALLY SERIOUSLY say, "We hate elves."

And I laughed but instantly mourned because I wouldn't be able to blog about it for real.

I don't hate elves. But I love that there are people in the world who can say that and have their reasons.


Going away

Sunny, Mandy, and I have always talked about going away together. We used to imagine a garret apartment in Paris where we would live poverty-stricken, adventurous lives and would know when not to enter our shared flat due to the colored bandana-over-the-doorknob system that told when one of us had a boy over. I love that we never imagined enough money to have our own space; it was always small and close. When Sunny and I met Mandy in junior high, we started sneaking out of our homes and trying to get in trouble.

I think we were all impatient for MORE: more age and freedom and independence. I know that more than anything, I craved experience. I wanted to rack up experiences like bright beads and wear them as a necklace, a hemp necklace. (It was the 90s). I thought about other girls I knew who followed rules better, many of whom I liked and were my friends but who I didn't necessarily feel as inspired by because they weren't as daring. I thought I'd rather question everything and make mistakes and learn my own way. I remember thinking, "I'd want my child to be this way."

This past weekend, Sunny, Mandy and I finally went away together to Union Pier, on Lake Michigan, with their girls Freddie Jane and Sarah Grace, aged 2-and-a-half and 2 years old.

Photo: Sunny Neater-Dubow

It was nuts in a really calming, wine-drinking, walk to the beach sort of way. In some ways I still see our cravings, the more-more-more thirst for whatever it is we want and in others a bizarrely complementary patience reigns. Slow to marry and mate, their babies are so young and we are all still young enough yet we're 20 years removed from our Paris dream, a dream that specifically wasn't important. None of us had a great love for the French, we just wanted to be out in the world. And we all got into it in our own way.

Photo: Sunny Neater-Dubow

I know that I'm old enough to be slightly terrified at the idea of all of the above: having kids, not having kids, having my kids be like me. When I was younger, I was glad I was so moody, petulant, and pissed off because I thought that meant I was thinking. Now I'm also glad I got out of a lot of scrapes in one piece because that thinking led me down some dark alleys.

I can't look at these little girls and wish dark alleys upon them for the sake of knowledge. I wish them confidence, joy, and curiosity. I watch them run around in circles, laughing and egging each other on and wonder if they'll get along when they're older. I think it's important that they see us make time for each other so that they'll value friendship. We laugh about how they might turn into princess-cheerleaders, so different than we were but we'll quell the cringe and love that about them, too.

I watched Mandy and Sunny sit on the floor and change their daughters into pajamas. Mandy passed a diaper to Sunny and I almost laughed by how similar they still looked to their high school selves, right down to their clothing. Everything has changed, and nothing.

Laughing quietly to myself

About hotels that try so hard to be sexy or just so hard in general.

The sign under a light switch in Los Angeles that reads "Baby, you turn me on."

The hotel in Nashville where I have to call Matthew and debrief after ordering room service due to the officious way the staff asks permission to lift each silver lid off the food. Because I'm losing my mind I always have the sense that a) I'm rehabiting the mid-80s and have a butler, specifically Mr. Belvedere, or b) It's my senior year of high school and the Antioch College Sexual Offense Prevention Policy has come out in response to date rapes on the Yellow Springs, OH campus and consenting adults must obtain verbal consent before proceeding with each step of sexual advance. May I unveil your medium hamburger? May I wipe away the dew that has settled upon your water glass? Shall I heave over the pats of butter with tiny huffs of breath until you deem them spreadable?

After none of these things happen and I quash the whole charade with a quick "Oh naw, naw, I got it," the kitchen usually still calls up to the room to TALK ABOUT IT and make sure I had a good experience. That's when I call Matthew and say, "Next time, I'm secretly filming it so you know what I'm not exaggerating..."

It's incredible. I'm sure there are people this kind of service appeals to. If I didn't get so holed up in my room working, not wanting to break my momentum or waste time by going outside and finding a restaurant, I wouldn't even know about this shit. In New York at least I can be a workaholic and neurotic and still never succumb to room service because there is always something open, nearby, and quick to walk to.

But this hotel today in Midtown Manhattan has SHOT GLASSES instead of regular glasses to drink from in the bathroom. And even though they are double shots, do you know how frustrating it is to try to quench your thirst with shot after shot of water? I looked like a damn hamster last night and finally stuck my mouth to the faucet. I'm sure someone thought the shot glasses were clever, though.


A. Skate

Full disclosure: Despite all my talk of skating and the fact that I have my own board and there's a small colony of skateboards leaning up against the wall at my front door, I skated a total of ONE TIME this summer. ONE WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS TIME.

I've regretted the fact that I talked so much about skating before tour because by August I couldn't stop thinking what if I break my hands if I skate on a day off? How will I type and do my job with broken hands? Somehow I imagined a cast extensive enough to require a little stilt between my torso and arm. It was a bad break, bad enough to break both arms along with my hands. Really bad.

My one skate was in Salt Lake at the very beginning of the summer during rehearsals. I was walking around the city with Neil Wilson and we spotted a deserted parking garage underneath an apartment building. I scooted around and leaned this way and that and took a few turns and was pretty pleased with myself. Nothing fancy but it felt like a solid start.

For the rest of summer I was harassed by Neil Rinden and Tyler, both of whom would ask me periodically how my skating was going and then make fun of me for being a poser. Neil Rinden was particularly relentless and kept asking to see my wheels to which I kept giving him the finger. Finally, on the second-to-last show day he said that we had to do a photo shoot of me "tearing it up." Sure, I said, no problem.

I forgot, though, how crazy the last show day is. There is so much to wrap up and close out and take care of and it's one of those days where I want to be sentimental and thank everyone personally from the bottom of my heart for all their hard work but I end up resorting to Lamaze breathing to try to calm the fuck down and at best manage to share a few beers in the parking lot after load out.

When I saw Neil in the dressing room corridor that day he said, "Roncker, get your board out!" and I distinctly remember replying simply, "NO," over my shoulder as we passed. The photos didn't happen, the wheels still look new and I still can't skate very well but I still think it looks fun especially now that I'm less worried about the repercussions of being in a body cast.

But what I really wanted to tell you to check out is this: A.skate, a nonprofit for autistic kids.

Children with autism often struggle with the ability to follow directions, play on a team due to the lack of social skills, and many require activities to be performed on their own terms.

Autism, like skateboarding, can be unpredictable and often times unruly. We embrace the parts of autism that are hard to understand and give these kids an outlet that is free of rules or judgment, and allows them to be social without being “social”.

How cool is that?



It happened in Nashville last night. Yeah, I'm bummed I missed it.



You know you're traveling too much when you realize you're going through the Detroit airport SIX TIMES IN A TWO-WEEK PERIOD. DTW is arguably my favorite airport in the country but still, too much.

Laughing quietly to myself

About how Matthew woke me up in the middle of the night talking in his sleep about what a good movie Karate Kid is.


Johnny Mañana's pt. 1

I felt at home and lazy eating a burrito at Johnny Mañana's this weekend, laughing with Matthew about the night out before and planning to see Drive at the movie theater across the street later that evening. It was sunny and warm and relaxing on the patio until an idiot kid drove by and threw a M-80 firecracker into a stroller on the sidewalk. The baby who belonged to the stroller was being held at the table next to ours when it exploded. Our waitress investigated and laughed. The father inspected and came back calmly. I felt jumpier than everyone else at lunch was acting; maybe I'm not as relaxed as I thought.

I've been ON for months so coming home and unwinding is easier said than done. I want to calm down deeply. I don't want to portray calm so as to project an image and encourage those around me to feel confident, I want to feel it in my own motherfucking marrow but it takes time.

I got a massage in Manila. A tiny woman straddled my back and chopped up my butt cheeks like she was mincing vegetables. She wound my legs around sockets I wasn't aware of, stroked my scalp, and paid so much attention to each knuckle on my fingers, I could have kissed her. Instead, I tipped her big. I slept eight hours on the 13 hour flight home, drank wine like water, and saw everyone safely on their way. This would be my cue to take a deep breath.

Matthew: "Hey! I'm not an American Idol! You don't have to fight me!"

Me: "What? Oh."

Matthew: "This is a discussion, not a battle."

Me: "I'm sorry, you lost me."

One of the Idols was cracking me up, telling me that she's going to have PTSD, Post Traumatic Signing Disorder. She's caught herself smiling for cameras as she's falling asleep in that half-in/half-out state, alone in bed in the dark, flashing her teeth and cocking her head to the side. Another found herself murmuring to herself in her sleep, "Thank you, thank you so much for coming to the show..." We are all of us firmly anchored to what was required over the summer and now it's time to lift that. (It's heavy).

Have I mentioned that I'm grateful? I am. It was a great group to work with for many reasons. Part of the reason that it's harder to settle down right away is that I'm jumping quickly onto another project. It's smaller and more sporadic but still enough work to keep me from cartwheeling down the beach in my free time. Make that "free time". I'm grateful for this new work too, it's just hard because it feels like I'm losing the balance war.

Do you remember the time I asked Geoff, my old boss, how you balance home and work?

His answer was swift.

"You don't."

I found that depressing. I've never ever thought that work was worth destroying personal life and I still don't. Yes, we make sacrifices in the short term but - for us, until now - it's been okay because overall we've come out ahead. The minute that reverses itself is when I start reevaluating everything. Until then, each walk in the park is a gift.


Short video featuring Oceanside, Asylum skate shop and Pablo, Matthew's co-worker:


Lush henna - After

Several people asked for after photos from my recent Henna session so yesterday I obliged and stood in the mirror mugging myself for a few too many minutes. It was further proof of why I'll never be a style blogger. It is so hard for me not to look crazed, goofy or cross-eyed in photos. Ignore my face and focus on the hair color, thanks! This hue brought to you by two blocks of Caca Marron and one Caca Rouge.